Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ask a Planner... "Wedding Party Attire... Who Pays?"

Hiya DreamGroup! 

You guys are awesome for doing this! It’s so nice to have a place to ask my question!  We are debating whether or not to pay for my bridesmaid’s dresses and the guy’s suit rentals.  Is it totally taboo to ask the wedding party to pay for these themselves?  I’ve heard a lot of different opinions from the peanut gallery but figured you’d know better than anyone!  Thanks!

Jenn B.

Hi Jenn,

This is a great question and a commonly debated one at that!  My personal opinion is that being in a wedding party (especially as a bridesmaid) can be very expensive once you add up all the money that your loyal girlfriends will need to spend over the duration of your “year in the sun” – there’s engagement party gifts, bridal shower gifts (and in some cases the expense of hosting the shower itself), stagette costs, wedding day hair and make-up fees, the dress of course, and sometimes even a wedding present.  I have a good friend who has been a bridesmaid about 8 times and figures she has spent over ten thousand dollars being a dutiful "lady in waiting".  That’s a lot of money!  My thoughts are that if you are financially able to pay for the dresses and tuxedos please do so.  It’s the polite thoughtful way to go.

In the event that you simply cannot afford to cover this cost than do the next best thing and keep the cost of the dress to under $200.00 all in with alterations (or offer to pay a portion thereof to keep the price near that amount) or better yet allow your bridesmaids to choose their own off the rack dress providing some specific colour and/or style parameters which will keep the look unified and complimentary.  You might even plan a shopping day with each of your bridesmaids separately which can be fun not to mention a savvy damage control plan of action (as not everyone’s version of medium pink or soft green is the same).  Black cocktail dresses are a fabulous alternative if appropriate with your colour theme and ceremony environment.  And who doesn’t need an excuse to go out and buy a fabulous new black cocktail dress?! Apart from the dress, the same rule applies to hair and make-up, any jewelery or shoes you specifically ask your bridesmaids to purchase, etc.  Just be considerate and either cover the cost or keep costs and requested wedding party purchases to a minimum.

As you have likely noticed I did not talk much about the groomsmen, but the same rule applies… if you can afford it, cover it, if not, than keep costs as reasonable as possible without resorting to the $99 hot & stiff polyester “may burst into flames any second” suit/tuxedo.  AND… whatever you do don’t allow the groomsmen to rent their own suits/tuxedos or wear one out of their closet as this is a sure way to create a disheveled looking wedding party! Navy for example comes in many different shades and suits/tuxedos come in many different styles.  If one groomsman has a 2-button navy suit with a thinner lapel, the other a 3-button lighter Navy suit with a bit of a sheen to it, and the third a more modern body hugging almost black navy suit, you will have one messy looking line up.  A sure way to ruin your wedding photos!  Renting (regardless of who is paying) is often the most sensible way to go in order to guarantee a unified and elegant overall look.

Best of luck with your wedding Jenn! 

Wedding Planner signing off!  Until next week… keep those questions coming in!  Submit your questions by emailing us at


Genève McNally, Principal Planner, DreamGroup Productions

Genève first began her wedding career in 1999 as the Catering Manager for one of Vancouver’s most sought after wedding venues, Brock House Restaurant.  In 2004 Genève and college friend Sarah Shore ambitiously started up what is now one of Vancouver's longest running and most trusted wedding planning companies, DreamGroup Productions Inc.

These days, in addition to working with her clients in a full planning capacity, Genève focuses her attention on the sales and marketing aspects of the company and is most often the friendly voice you will chat with when first inquiring with DreamGroup.  Genève is known to inspire and excite both clients and industry associates alike with her exuberant personality and joie de vivre!  Her ability to be refreshingly candid and her in depth knowledge of the wedding industry have earned her the friendly moniker “Two-Cents McNally”.  Genève also teaches the Wedding Planning classes offered through the dg Academy and is the chief correspondent behind DreamGroup's weekly Blog feature Ask a Planner.

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